At Randolph Health, we have advanced cardiac testing provided by a skilled, integrated team of physicians and clinicians to accurately diagnose and treat most cardiac conditions. While we are dedicated to providing high-quality testing, we are also dedicated to providing individual treatment where our patients are a valuable part of the care team.
Echocardiography allows doctors to visualize the anatomy, structure and function of the heart. It can quickly diagnose the presence and severity of heart valve problems, as well as determine abnormal blood flow within the heart, which can occur due to heart disease or which you may have been born with. This window to the heart enables doctors to diagnose a number of cardiovascular diseases, so they can begin proper treatment.
An echocardiogram is a safe, noninvasive procedure. It uses high-frequency sound waves to see all four chambers of the heart, the heart valves, the great blood vessels entering and leaving the heart, and the sac around the heart.
There are several different types of echocardiograms, including:
An echocardiogram helps physicians evaluate the structure and function of the heart and associated vessels. It is a painless and harmless test that uses ultrasound waves to produce images of the heart. The test is performed by a specially trained technologist, called a sonographer, and is interpreted by a specially trained physician, usually a cardiologist.
This procedure combines an echocardiogram with an administration, through a vein, of a sterile contrast solution, which provides images of the inside of the heart. The contrast solution is a harmless agent that has no known side effects. You will need to have an IV to receive a contrast echocardiogram.
With this procedure, a miniature ultrasound camera is passed down the esophagus, behind the heart. This allows the physician to obtain high-quality images. Transesophageal echocardiograms are typically performed to evaluate strokes, transient ischemic attacks, previous valve replacements and bypass surgeries, and other serious heart conditions.
Cardiac Stress Testing
A cardiac stress test is used to evaluate how the heart and vascular system function during exercise. It helps answer two general questions:
- Is there underlying heart disease that becomes apparent only when the heart is stressed by exercise?
- If there is underlying heart disease, how severe is it?
Stress tests available at Randolph Health include:
Graded Exercise Stress Test (GEST)
This test will help your physician obtain information that may indicate significant heart disease, abnormal rhythms and blood pressure response with exercise. The test is conducted with your walking on a treadmill for a specified duration of time, getting you to your maximum heart rate for your age.
Nuclear stress test
In addition to the procedures that are performed as part of a standard stress test, a patient scheduled for a nuclear test is injected with a small, harmless amount of a radioactive substance. Once in the patient's body, this substance emits rays that can be picked up by a special camera. The rays allow the camera to produce clear pictures of heart tissue on a video monitor. These pictures show contrasts between light and dark spots, which can indicate areas of damage or reduced blood flow that are present before, during and after exertion.
Nuclear stress test (lexiscan and dobutamine)
Patients who are unable to exercise may receive a nuclear medicine test. In this test, the patient is injected with a medication such as dobutamine. The medication causes the heart to react as if the person were exercising, though the patient is actually at rest. Another medication that performs this function is lexiscan. Some drugs increase the heart rate, and other drugs increase blood flow by causing the coronary arteries to widen.
Tilt table test
A tilt table test is a diagnostic test used to help a physician determine why a patient has been having sudden drops in blood pressure, causing, for example, fainting spells (also called syncope).
This test is conducted on a pivoting table. By securing the patient on his or her back to the tilt table, and then tilting the table upright (head up and feet down), the factors leading to neurocardiogenic syncope may be simulated. Medications may also be given to the patient while he or she is upright to try to recreate the abnormal reflex. The patient's heart rate and blood pressure are monitored carefully throughout the test. Results from the test are available immediately, and a specific course of treatment can be prescribed at that time.